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It would be a mistake for the ERG to not back the Brady amendment

28 January 2019

2:54 PM

28 January 2019

2:54 PM

Bernard Jenkin has just told ITV’s Romilly Weeks that he won’t currently be voting for the Brady amendment. This suggests that the amendment won’t have the numbers as a large chunk of the ERG won’t vote for it.

Even from an ERG perspective, this is—to my mind—a tactical mistake. If the Brady amendment doesn’t get a majority on Tuesday, it will be taken by Brussels and by many in the cabinet as proof that a Tory DUP alliance can’t get any withdrawal agreement through. After all, anyone who won’t vote for Brady is saying that they wouldn’t vote for the withdrawal agreement even if the backstop was replaced by ‘alternative arrangements’ designed to prevent a hard border.


In these circumstances, Theresa May’s pivot back towards her own party will have failed. Given that the Commons would bring the government down if it went for no deal, the only options May would have left in these circumstances would be to soften Brexit to try and get Labour support or to request an extension to Article 50 and fight a general election on the basis of her deal. Neither of these outcomes would be desirable from an ERG point of view.

By contrast, if Brady passes—and especially if Cooper-Boles doesn’t—May would return to Brussels saying that changes to the backstop would get her deal through. There’s absolutely no guarantee that the EU would offer these up, but Brady passing would mean that May would continue with her strategy of trying to keep her party and the DUP behind her as she negotiates.


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